February 13, 2019

The History of Disinfection Testing


Disinfection testing with MSL

Does your company or your clients have a plan for your disinfection testing going forward into BPR? Do you need help on how to unlock the best potential from your product range? MSL is here to help you develop going forward with our experts in disinfection testing, building on the history of the industry before us.

A brief history of disinfectant testing

The first publication of a disinfectant testing procedure dates back to 1881 when Robert Koch published his germ carrier test in Germany, his groundbreaking work on tuberculosis and the development of the Germ theory earned him the Nobel Prize. This test was rudimentary and had its flaws but laid the foundation that has led to a wide range of tests which can be carried out today.

Throughout the 1900’s, testing became more and more sophisticated, as knowledge of how disinfectants acted and how bacteria worked improved. By the 1960’s – 1970’s testing had developed independently across the globe from these initial building blocks to cover a wider range of scenarios and had progressed from the qualitative results of the past to quantitative results we require today.

Problems now arose not from a lack of understanding but from a lack of harmonisation, the U.S used the qualitative use dilution test, Germany had their own qualitative test from the German Society of Hygiene and Microbiology, the Dutch had the quantitative 5-5-5 test and in the UK labs were using the Kelsey-Sikes test. These test use different methodology gave different results to each other and didn’t even use the same organisms to offer a direct comparison.

These issues made it hard for the industry to sell products internationally as no country would accept another countries tests, so either test them all or only sell within your home nation an inefficient and expensive position for the industry to be in.

Several attempts were made through the 70’s and 80’s to create a harmonised standard group but to no avail, and during this time more and more standards were being created independently of each other causing a further burden on industry.

Then in 1989, the UK formed the first technical committee for disinfectants through the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) the intention of this group was to start the standardisation of disinfectants for Agricultural, veterinary, food industries, antiseptics and medical applications. Its first meeting took place in April 1990.

Since then CEN/TC/216 has published standards for testing against Bacteria, Mycobacteria, Viruses, Fungi, Yeast and Spores for use in the medical, veterinary and industrial area representing a range of product application and conditions of use. This work over 30 years at CEN has allowed greater access to the markets of Europe with clear guides of is expected of each product when a claim is made.

BPR now dictates the future of test design and the further need of harmonisation to fill in the gaps that still exist as new technologies have come to market and new techniques have become available.

How does MSL fit into this history and how do we affect the future?

As these test guidelines change and the market becomes regulated by BPR, MSL endeavour to stay ahead of legislation and new test standards, our position as new members of BSI and CEN as of 2018 puts us amongst Europe’s experts in this field of work, we can offer the latest testing standards and the best guidance for your products and projects with access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise.

Disinfectant testing development is far from complete and now MSL can help shape what these tests look like and help our customers stay prepared for the regulations which shape the market in the future.

Our projects team is able to do any disinfectant testing for any application and we can help you pick the testing best suited to your claims. So please contact our Projects Team today for advice on how we can help you.

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